Road to BlizzCon: Fnatic

Fnatic celebrating after a win at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Written by: EsportsJohn


Table of Contents


Fnatic ride into BlizzCon with the momentum of a team on their first big break. 2016 has been a year full of hard work and dedication, but it’s not quite over yet. Fnatic will need to play better than ever if they hope to defeat their regional rival Dignitas or the Korean or Chinese powerhouses for a Top 4 finish. When it comes down to it, Fnatic’s inexperience on the world stage will be a huge factor in whether they can put up a good showing or go home early. In any case, Europe’s younger brother has finally grown up and now has a shot at the throne. Will they pull through?

Origins

Fnatic’s roots in the scene go all the way back to the Alpha in late 2014 with a roster headlined by former SC2 players NaNiwa and SaSe. The roster unfortunately disbanded almost immediately following their 2014 BlizzCon showmatches, but the organization decided to stay involved in the scene and a new roster was formed in January of 2015 with AceofSpades, Lowell, Fred, Shinobu, and Kesil.

Nothing of real note happened during this timespan for Fnatic, and they had a long series of transformations to undergo before they would become the championship-quality team we know today. Lukewarm results over the next few months led to changes; Fred, Shinobu, and AceofSpades left and new players Breez and Ménè were brought in. Wubby also originally joined the roster at this time, but his career would take several twists and turns before he ended up back on the team.

Fnatic’s results weren’t impressive during the 2015 Heroes World Championship (HWC) events. They placed rather poorly at the European Championship in Prague due to their relatively poor understanding of the double Warrior metagame that was in vogue and the time and missed their opportunity to go to BlizzCon 2015. Cracks began to form and an end-of-the-year roster change became necessary again.

The Fnatic we’re more familiar with was beginning to form. Kesil, Lowell, and Wubby left and the team was reformed around Breez and Ménè. Two outstanding players who managed to grab the 8th qualifying spot at Prague under the wildcard team Pirates in Pyjamas, Quackniix and Smexystyle, knew Breez from a small Swedish team they had formed together in early in their Heroes of the Storm careers. Based on the players’ surprisingly good performance in Prague, Fnatic knew these two would be good additions to the roster. To fill in the gaps, they also picked up Shad for their next major tournament, DreamHack Winter. To the surprise of everyone, the new Fnatic roster dominated DreamHack and took first place against Team Liquid, then-undisputed the king of Europe.

Fnatic wins their first trophy at DreamHack Winter 2015

Photo Credit: DreamHack

At the end of 2015, Fnatic finished strong and looked like a contender for 2016, but two other giants were also forming: Team Dignitas (formerly Bob?) and mYinsanity. Throughout 2016, these two teams would prove to be a thorn in Fnatic’s side by preventing them from reaching the Global Championship multiple times.

Fnatic’s 2016 Run

On paper, the scene in Europe this year has been characterized by a power struggle between the two regional giants mYinsanity (now Misfits) and Team Dignitas, with a score of underperforming teams in the lower echelons of play competing for a spot in the regional semifinals. There’s no doubt that Fnatic held the definitive third place spot in the region, but most of this year has been spent ping-ponging between the two giants, unable to clench a spot at the Global Championships until now.

It seems crazy to call Fnatic a “dark horse” team since they made it to the playoffs for every regional tournament. They’ve had an exceptional roster all year long and were feared by many but could never quite seize the spot for a Global Championship. In fact, ask almost any team in Europe and they will say it’s a three-way tie for the top spot.

“We consistently improve and have, for a while now. been considered Top 3 EU and at all offline events. We have had fairly good results; even though we haven’t won a regionals yet, we have always finished within Top 4.”

Quackniix

The beginning of 2015 wasn’t great for Fnatic, but Europe as a whole was in ruins. All of the top teams had just undergone Europe’s first rosterpocalypse and were testing the waters for the first time with unsteady legs. Players had been shuffled from every major team to another, and many teams were hardly recognizable after nearly restructuring the entire roster (Team Liquid, for example). It was a period of great experimentation, but it quickly became obvious at IEM Katowice that the rosterpocalypse had negatively affected the region as whole.

Fnatic’s lineup had also undergone a few changes. Ménè left and Shad was let go; flex player scHwimpi and unique tank player Atheroangel took their places. Ménè and Shad were undoubtedly some very talented players, but Fnatic’s new roster looked stronger than ever. They absolutely wrecked the regional qualifiers, in large part due to Quackniix’s new Greymane pick, and secured their spot in the European Championship.

Needless to say, the first regional at IEM Katowice was shaky for all the teams, but Fnatic appeared to have come out ahead with the roster changes. They won their group in convincing fashion but fell to the eventual champions, Dignitas, in their semifinal match. This was the first of many times that Dignitas would present themselves as a brick wall to Fnatic’s tournament progress.

Quackniix is interviewed after their group stage win at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

While Dignitas and mYinsanity went off to the Spring Global Championship, Fnatic stayed behind and trained. The Summer season would prove to be a pivotal point in the shift of power, but it didn’t happen all at once. Their performance at the first European Championship in Leicester was adequate, but once again mYinsanity and Dignitas swatted them down with superior double support compositions that Fnatic was less familiar with.

Shockingly, Dignitas announced the departure of Wubby from their roster following their win at Leicester, and Fnatic was quick to scoop him up and form an all Swedish roster. The result was a huge improvement in communication since the team could shotcall in their native tongue and bond better as a team. All at once, Fnatic seemed to come into their own and pose a real threat to the top teams.

“We have had some roster swaps over the year, and every swap has lead to a better Fnatic, meaning our overall performance has just been going up as we have shown more consistency and proven to ourselves that we are a top tier team in EU.”

Quackniix

The second European Championship at DreamHack Tours resulted in Fnatic with their first finals placement in over six months. Though they fell 3-0 against mYinsanity’s flawless run through the tournament, they KO’d their group and annihilated their semifinals opponent teh89 without any real effort. It’s worth noting that Dignitas had a surprisingly poor showing at Tours by failing to even make it out of the group stage (quite possibly because AlexTheProG was still adjusting to the team), but Fnatic would prove again and again during the Fall Championship that they deserved their spot in the top two.

Valencia. Fnatic beat Dignitas to make it out of their group in first place. They 3-0’d mYinsanity in the semifinals. They then took on Dignitas again and pulled the series all the way to a game 5 in the finals. Unfortunately, they missed the championship trophy by the slimmest of margins, but the slightest of differences could have pushed the tides in their favor. At Gamescom, Fnatic brought Misfits (formerly mYinsanity) to the very brink of elimination and went on to play them again in a qualification tiebreaker (due to ESL rules). In the end, they barely eked out the win and guaranteed their spot on the world stage at BlizzCon—at long last.

Player Profiles

Breez

Breez at the European Fall Championship at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

On the tank role, Pontus “Breez” Sjogren is a energetic fireball of a player. Known for his shouting onstage during games, he brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm during matches and keeps up the team momentum. If you can hear “KAEL’THAS!!” from the opposite end of the venue, you’re probably hearing Breez.

Breez is definitely one of the most aggressive tank players in Europe and never wavers when it comes to engaging in a teamfight. He has a fairly wide Hero pool, but most of the time we tend to see him on the “big three” tanks: E.T.C., Muradin, and Johanna. He’s proven that he can also play some of the nonstandard tanks like Arthas and Diablo like a champion, so nothing is out of the question. Whatever tank he’s on, expect to see him engage without hesitation when he sees an opening in the enemy’s defense and pull the trigger in teamfights.

scHwimpi

scHwimpi onstage at the European Summer Championship in Tours

Photo Credit: DreamHack

Previously on Natus Vincere during the height of their power in late 2015, Simon “scHwimpi” Svensson is Fnatic’s flex player. Generally quiet in demeanor, scHwimpi is still energetic onstage and often lets out a tremendous roar when his team wins a major teamfight. His general enthusiasm and strong morale help to raise up other players and keep them focused.

Like all flex players, scHwimpi’s Hero pool is quite wide, ranging from off-tanks to ranged Assassins to super niche picks. However, he rarely plays bruisers or melee Assassins, leaving the role to Wubby. He’s often on “toxic” Heroes like Medivh or Zagara which can be extremely obnoxious to deal with. He secretly laments playing only the most annoying Heroes and envies the melee role (says inside sources), but he’s content with his role on the team. He brings a huge amount of preparation and skill to whichever Hero he plays. At the present, he is arguably the best Abathur player in the world, rivaled only by Fan or KyoCha.

Wubby

Wubby onstage at the Summer European Championship in Tours

Photo Credit: DreamHack

As quite possibly the best mechanical player in Europe, Jonathan “Wubby” Gunnarsson is the perfect flex. He tends to specialize in melee Assassins and off-tanks, but history has shown that he can play any role including tank or support. Known as a relatively quiet person, Wubby tends to be more withdrawn than the rest of the team. Nonetheless, his entrance to the team strongly impacted the communication and camaraderie of the team positively.

Wubby is a beast on high impact melee Assassins like Zeratul or Thrall. He can quite easily carry teamfights with outstanding mechanical plays and often comes out of games as the MVP. On tanky bruisers like Leoric or Anub’arak, he matches Breez’s aggression and often puts a lot of pressure on the back line with his perfectly timed dives. Keep an eye out for this playmaker, as his gameplay will often be the most decisive factor in Fnatic’s teamfights.

Quackniix

Quackniix onstage at the European Summer Championship in Tours

Photo Credit: DreamHack

The unlikely hero of Fnatic is Dob “Quackniix” Engström. This oddball player joined Fnatic after leaving the Swedish underdog team Pirates in Pyjamas and quickly took charge as the team captain and shotcaller. On the role of ranged Assassin, he’s generally on the forefront of the metagame and has often popularized power picks.

Long thought of as a “one-trick pony” type of player (first on Falstad, then on Greymane), Quackniix has been under close scrutiny by the public eye. However, he has proven his aptitude to play any Hero he sees fit. A natural talent for gaming combined with his strong work ethic and practice regimen allow him to perfect his play on any Hero. Along with his brilliant shotcalling and focus on teamwork, Quackniix is undoubtedly one of the best overall players in Europe, maybe even the world.

Smexystyle

Smexystyle at the European Fall Championship at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

The heart of the team is Filip “Smexystyle” Liljeström, often just called “Smexy” (or even just “SmX”). He is one of the most uplifting and supportive players (forgive the pun) in the Heroes scene and keeps Fnatic on track when they’re feeling down—he’s also pretty good at staring contests.

Team coach Careion cites him as very motivated and always hungry to improve. When Smexy first joined Fnatic, he was often looked upon as the weak link on the team but has since shown great improvement and become one of the best support players in Europe. Like most support players, he generally plays the most popular Heroes in the meta, but if you had to choose a signature Hero for him it would be Kharazim. During the past few months, Smexy has cultivated an impressive amount of skill on the Hero and—dare I say?—even rivals Bakery as the best Kharazim player in Europe now.

Playstyle

If there were one word to describe Fnatic’s playstyle, it would be aggressive. They are, by and large, the most aggressive team in the midst of Europe’s relatively safe, macro-heavy meta. Contrary to Misfits’ careful, calculated, long-term plays, Fnatic is never afraid to enter fights and force errors out of their opponents to gain short-term advantages. But they’ve evolved too.

During the Spring Season, this unbridled aggression was more of a weakness than a strength. They often faltered in the late game with overly aggressive plays or Core dives and found themselves in bad positions due to botched fights and poor map control.

“In the beginning, they had a very aggressive playstyle with intense rotations trying to snipe one out, always trying to force the 5v4, and sometimes being a little over-aggressive,” recalls Fnatic’s coach Careion, “like doing too much, especially when [they’re] up…and then throwing the game because [they] weren’t patient and controlled enough to wait out the game.”

Fnatic win a spot to BlizzCon at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Careion worked hard during the Summer Season to temper the team’s hasty decisions and convert their aggression into a valuable asset instead of a liability. Fnatic began to pull back their aggression and become more disciplined and more adept at controlling the pace of the game. They pulled all the pieces together and managed to develop their macro play alongside their insane mechanics in time, and now they rarely, if ever, make impulsive decisions during the late game.

When it comes to drafting, it’s more about the map than the playstyle for Quackniix. “I try to make sure that playing the map is always the center of attention,” he explained, “meaning I adapt the drafts for the map more than for a specific playstyle to make less room for failure or playstyles backfiring.” By using this top down method of drafting, Fnatic tends to play “predictably”, but they always draft the strongest overall composition.

“We have had some different playstyles over the year since you follow meta. As [the] meta changes, you just have to adapt and find your place—sometimes its aggressive dive, sometimes it’s pickoff, and sometimes it’s the slow comps that work the best.”

Quackniix

A large part of their success in the Fall Season has been the “unbeatable” composition on small maps: double Warrior, a global presence Hero (usually Falstad), solo support Tassadar, and a ranged DPS to round out the composition. With this particular setup, Fnatic took advantage of the minion changes to create an ultra-tanky composition which could brawl forever while large minion waves built up in the side lanes.

The power of this composition not only showed Fnatic’s unique ability to grab hold off the metagame and execute a strategy perfectly but also showcased their incredible improvement in terms of patience and macro play. They used the strategy much less during Gamescom, but it’s a wonderful example of how the team has evolved over the year. With double tank still very much in vogue, we can expect to see Fnatic’s trademark composition at least once during BlizzCon.

Heading Into BlizzCon

Fnatic’s road to BlizzCon began a year ago after their untimely departure in Prague. Since then, steady improvement within the roster, management, and strategy has transformed them into a force to be reckoned with. Heading into BlizzCon this year, they are expected to perform well. However, with a lack of experience on the global stage and basically no exposure to Asian teams, it will be an uphill battle.

“You can never underestimate them [the minor regions], even if it’s a region like Australia/New Zealand or South America. Even if they go out every time in the first group stage, you cannot expect it to happen the same at BlizzCon—that you will just beat them with ease. It’s not like that, you always have to prepare.”

Careion

Team coach Careion comments that the team is wary stepping onto the global stage for the first time, “You can never underestimate them [the minor regions]…that you will just beat them with ease. It’s not like that, you have to prepare.”

Quackniix celebrates after a big win at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Though Fnatic is looking at all the teams, a large part of their study is centered on their most dangerous foes: the Korean giants MVP Black and Ballistix (formerly L5). If they want to take it all the way, they’ll need to keep pace with the titans and be ready for any curve balls that get thrown at them—a tall task, no doubt.

“I hope and believe that we are working in the right direction, meaning everything we do is helping us improve and will only boost our performance continuing forward.”

Quackniix

“We have finished 2nd more than one time, showing we have what it takes. We have grown and become a lot stronger as a unit and as individuals,” Quackniix stated proudly, aware of the incredible growth that Fnatic has undergone this year. “I believe we have a chance [at BlizzCon] for sure. We just gotta make sure we spend the time well in terms of practice and preparation,” he added. Whatever the case may be, Fnatic has already proven in 2016 that their hard work and dedication pays off. Tackling BlizzCon may be a monumental task, but if any team is up to it, it’s Fnatic.


A huge thanks to Quackniix and Careion for carrying me through some of the team details! Thank you for bearing with me during the delay on this article! It was great meeting and talking to both of you, and I hope Fnatic does great at BlizzCon!


EsportsJohn has no idea what will be unveiled at BlizzCon after the 2017 HGC League was announced. Any ideas? You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

GCWC Interview with Astral Authority

NetEase and Blizzard host global Heroes of the Storm tournament GCWC

Photo Credit: NetEase

Table of Contents


Foreward

Written by: EsportsJohn

Passion is enough. Back-to-back regional champions Murloc Geniuses proved this with their zero-to-hero story during the Fall season in North America. Reforming with the “rejects” of other teams, Murloc Geniuses was just a group of guys who were passionate about playing Heroes of the Storm no matter what. Headlined by former Murlocs CauthonLuck and Fury, the team assembled a group of underdogs with a lot of potential and worked as hard as possible for their first championship together. When they beat GFE during the first regional in Burbank to win the championship crown, everyone thought it was a fluke. But then it happened again at PAX. And then again during the North American Nexus Games.

After such huge success, the unsponsored team found themselves booming at a high market value for potential orgs. After some deliberation, Astral Authority ended up snagging the Murlocs after dropping their underperforming roster. Now under the moniker of AA, the boys find themselves not only heading to BlizzCon this week but also invited to the Chinese Gold Club World Championship tournament. The GCWC is a global tournament aimed at pitting the best teams from other major regions against China’s best in a Beijing showdown. Though the tournament is more than a month away, NetEase decided to sit down and get the team’s initial thoughts about being invited to GCWC and some their goals moving forward.

Interview

Via NetEase

Welcome to GCWC! Can you describe your team for Chinese HotS fans? As the strongest team in NA pro scene, are there any particular pressures for you guys?

Jun: Thank you! It is pleasure to be invited to GCWC and compete with the Chinese and other international teams. Also awesome to have a chance to visit Beijing.
We are Astral Authority, a professional Heroes of the Storm team representing North America. Our teammates are:

  • cattlepillar – Melee/Ranged Flex & Shotcaller
  • Fury – Tank
  • psalm – Melee Flex
  • CauthonLuck – Ranged Flex
  • Jun – Support
The Astral Authority lineup for GCWC

Photo Credit: NetEase

It is true that we are currently considered the best NA team, but there are still a lot of people who question our ability to compete at a very high level which puts the pressure on our shoulders a bit. During the past two regional qualifiers, we have learned that the best thing to do is not to think about it too much and just play our game.

How does the team work together? How do you train daily? How do you prepare for tournaments?

Jun: Our team works as a ‘team’. Everyone participates in giving their ideas and opinions in order to achieve the best result in whatever we do—although sometimes people get distracted. Everyone is willing to listen to each other, and we trust that all of our individual players are doing the best they can to bring the team to the next level.

We scrim about six hours per day every week and have one off day. Outside of team practices, we’re free to do whatever we want, but usually we just play more games to improve our own individual mechanics.

The day before tournaments, we make a game plan by going through every map and every possible draft situation that might happen. Also, we go through the general mindset and gameplay we should have for each according opponent.

What was the original intention behind forming the team? What’s your biggest advantage?

Jun: I think you could say that most of our team was formed by players that were either ‘kicked’ or ‘not wanted’ from other present teams. One story that lot of people know is about Fury, our tank player: we qualified for the BlizzCon by beating Gale Force Esports—the team who kicked Fury. As for me, I wasn’t a known player before I joined Murloc Geniuses (now Astral Authority). After going through a week of tryouts as a support, they trusted my abilities enough to compete professionally with me even though I was inexperienced. I actually attempted to try out for other teams, but I was not able to, probably because I was not a known player.

I think the biggest strengths/advantages are the team’s environment and work ethic rather than the gameplay itself. The reason I say that is that I’ve learned that having a positive environment and being around players who are willing to improve is just as important as individual gaming skills. If a team has those characteristics, regardless if they are doing good or especially bad, they will always work as team to improve. Everyone makes a mistake—there’s no such thing as a perfect player. A great team wins as a team and loses as a team.

What’s the secret to keeping the top rank on the HotS pro stage?

Fury: Continue to practice as much as possible and during your practice time try hard to make sure whatever composition you’re trying will actually work in a tournament. Make sure to also explore different Heroes on specific maps while keeping up on what you think is meta.

How do you feel about taking part in GCWC in China?

Fury: This feels amazing to represent North America in a different region and, personally for me, I love traveling around the world playing video games professionally. I always enjoy the different cultures and how other regions live day to day compared to how my life is.

Any special or interesting things to share with us about your team or players?

Fury: Within two to three months, our team became the first North American team to win two regionals in a row. Jun, our support player, had never played at a LAN event before until our first championship in Burbank.

Murloc Geniuses after their win at the Heroes of the Storm NA Regional at PAX

Photo Credit: ESL

What’s your opinion toward Asian HotS teams? What’s the difference between NA and EU?

Fury: Asian teams for sure play a much more aggressive, coordinated playstyle where they hide somewhere for a long period of time just to get one kill. The difference between NA and EU is that NA is better haha.

Are there any particular teams you want to defeat or any goals you want to achieve at GCWC?

Fury: I want to stomp the EU teams just because of the long rivalry between the two regions. I want to show that NA is the stronger of those two regions. Playing versus any Asian team will be fun and a challenge, so I cannot wait until our team finally has a chance to face one in GCWC.

What do you think of the current metagame?

CauthonLuck: Tanks and bruisers are getting stronger and stronger in the meta with every patch. While triple ranged used to be standard [in compositions], soon it will be only one.

Which team would you consider your rival?

CauthonLuck: Not a real enemy, but GFE is the most different from our team. GFE was able to buy the most well-known and skilled players to try and create a “super team” for BlizzCon. Our team had to recruit players who were not well known but that we judged to have undervalued talent. Before every tournament, nobody gave us any chance compared to GFE; we always felt like David to GFE’s Goliath.

Cauthon, you’re a 32 year-old pro player. Can you share some interesting stories about yourself?

CauthonLuck: My age has made a career in Heroes of the Storm very difficult to establish. Though I had played three other esports games at a pro level and played in every pro Heroes tournament while working at a full-time job, no major team or org in North America was willing to give me a tryout due to my age when I was a free agent four months ago.

I had to start a new team in order to stay in the pro scene. With the help of people who had played with me before, we were able to recruit new talent and create the first team in North America to win back-to-back Regional Championships.

Any further thoughts to share with Chinese HOTS fans?
All: Thanks for inviting the team to represent NA in another opportunity to play on the global stage!

GCWC Venue - Beijing's Water Cube

Photo Credit: NetEase


This is an interview conducted and translated by NetEase. It is primarily intended for Chinese viewers to get a better sense of Western teams, but NetEase has given the publisher the right to publish for Western audiences as well. The publisher assumes no responsibility for inaccurate information or misrepresentation.


EsportsJohn is hyped for BlizzCon, how about you? You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Camino a BlizzCon: un equipo renace [ES]

Reborn lifts the trophy at the ANZ regional final

Artículo original en Inglés: Road to BlizzCon: A Team Reborn

Traducido por: Saghmare

Tabla de contenido


Provenientes desde muy abajo. Los chicos australianos están de vuelta en acción. Después de separarse y someterse a varios cambios en su alineación, la mayoría de los antiguos miembros de Negative Synergy se han vuelto a unir bajo el nuevo nombre de Reborn para su tercera aparición en un Global Championship – y esta vez, se ven más fuertes que nunca.

Orígenes

Su historia inicia a mediados del 2015 con robadobah, justo después de que Heroes of the Storm fuese lanzado. Team Inmunity era el nombre más grande en los e-sports de la región Australia-Nueva Zelanda (ANZ) y eventualmente adoptaron dos alineaciones: White y Black. En ese tiempo robadobah jugaba en White mientras que daspurtz jugaba en la alineación de Black. White arraso a a través de los clasificatorios Road to Blizzcon del 2015 pero se detuvieron en seco en el Americas Championship 2015. Sin embargo, robadobah no se daría por vencido, había probado la escena internacional y estaba sediento de más.

Durante la calma post-BlizzCon, robadobah y su actual compañero de equipo Sashin iniciarían su búsqueda de crear el “Dream Team” de la región ANZ reclutando a los mejores jugadores bajo un solo nombre. Su primer objetivo fue Daspurtz, quien se había retirado brevemente después de la derrota de Inmunity Black durante los clasificatorios de BlizzCon. Enseguida otro gran nombre de la región Exile5 repentinamente se disolvería dejando a dos de los mejores jugadores flex sin equipo y en espera de ser reclutados, Benjamin94 y Ninja. Una vez que las aguas se calmaron, robadobah pudo cumplir su meta de reunir a lo mejor de lo mejor.

“La primera noche que practicamos con la alineación completa, estuvimos a la altura del nombre “Sinergia Negativa” (Negative Synergy) ya que peleamos y estuvimos en desacuerdo en todo. Pero lo resistimos y logramos llegar a los campeonatos de Primavera y Verano.”

-Benjamin94

Las cosas no marcharon bien al principio – Benjamin94 comenta que las primeras veces que jugaron juntos “peleaban y estaban en desacuerdo en todo”- pero el equipo rápidamente empezó a tomar impulso. Medio año después, Negative Synergy había diezmado sin esfuerzo toda la competencia en ANZ y aterrizarían dos veces en la escena global.

Ejecución y reformación de Negative Synergy en 2016

Durante la temporada de primavera, Negative Synergy paso fácilmente los clasificatorios regionales con un récord total de 15-1. Sin embargo su dominio no se traducía tan bien en la escena global. Fallaron en pasar la primera fase de grupos con una puntuación 2-4 en el campeonato global de primavera en Seúl, Corea del Sur. Tuvieron una fuerte actuación en contra del equipo filipino Renovatio 1 pero fueron aplastados por EDward Gaming y Team Naventic en sus mejores momentos. Esto no fue algo inusual- ningún equipo de región menor ha podido vencer a las regiones mayores, más sin embargo fue decepcionante.

Negative Synergy at the Heroes of the Storm Spring Global Championship

La temporada de verano fue aun peor. Dejando de lado el hecho de que quedaran invictos durante los clasificatorios regionales, se comenzaron a formar grietas en la alineación de Negative Synergy. “Era bastante obvio… en su actuación en Suecia- se percibieron peores resultados que en Corea”, comentó Arcaner, miembro de Reborn. En el campeonato global, tuvieron unos juegos muy osados en contra de X-Team y Renovatio 1 y fueron sacados en la fase de grupos 1-4. Después de una actuación tan pobre, estaba claro que se necesitaban algunos cambios.

“Básicamente, como cualquier equipo de e-sports , Negative Synergy tuvo problemas internos durante toda la temporada de verano de HotS… así que después de que regresaron de Suecia, todos se separaron y esencialmente se volvieron agentes libres. Negative Synergy ya no existía de este punto en delante.”

-Arcaner

El equipo se separó completamente después de volver del Summer Global Championship, creando un pequeño apocalipsis de alineaciones en ANZ. Se empezaron a construir muchos nuevos equipos alrededor de los antiguos miembros de Negative Synergy, incluyendo uno centrado en robadobah, Sashin y el jugador flex Arcaner. Sin embargo nada parecía mantenerse firme. La mayoría de los equipos tuvieron actuaciones decepcionantes en los torneos regionales King of the Hill y los antiguos compañeros de Negative Synergy empezaron a gravitar hasta estar juntos de nuevo.

Al final, todos excepto por Sashin terminaron reunidos. El equipo probaría a Arcaner para el rol de jugador flex y este demostró ser más que capaz de cubrir el lugar de Sashin. Pese a jugar asesinos en sus equipos anteriores, Arcaner admitió tener interés en otros roles también: “mi rol principal y favorito cuando juego solo es soporte… puedo cubrir un montón de Héroes jaja.” El equipo adopto un nuevo nombre -The Boys- para conmemorar su amistad grupal.

“Un nombre muy elaborado lleva a callejones sin salida jaja. Es algo para lo que no somos muy talentosos por lo que solo nos apegamos a lo que creíamos que representaba la atmósfera del equipo. Terminamos con la oportunidad de cambiarlo a Reborn, que seria suficiente para un equipo profesional de HotS. The Boys era demasiado informal.”

–Arcaner

Durante las siguientes semanas, The Boys tomaron los torneos regionales por sorpresa y se veían tan fuertes, si no es que más, que el original Negative Synergy. Después de que se anunciaron los clasificatorios Road to Finals, The Boyz decidió cambiar su nombre a Reborn para tener un titulo más profesional y al mismo tiempo más acorde a ellos. Sashin empezó a reconstruir Negative Synergy con una nueva alineación y pronto los dos equipos se volverían rivales.

Los clasificatorios Road to Finals fueron relativamente sencillos para Reborn. Solo perdieron un juego en contra de Negative Synergy antes de reencontrarse cara a cara en la final. Fue una pelea decente, pero la resistente fuerza mecánica de Reborn subyugo al renovado Negative Synergy y catapulto a los dos veces contendientes mundiales a la escena global una vez más.

Perfiles de los jugadores

robadobah

robadobah at DreamHack Summer

En el rol de tanque, Robert Purling “robadobah” es una roca para anclar al equipo. Es el alma, y a menudo es la voz de la razón para mantener la agresión de sus compañeros de equipo a raya. Si el equipo comienza a fallar, las palabras de robadobah son las que los mantienen tranquilos y unidos.

Se inclina a un enfoque más cauteloso y oportunista de las peleas en equipo, pero no tiene miedo de sumergirse en lo profundo si es necesario. Tiene un muy flexible repertorio de héroes. Su elección, desde la presencia constante de Johanna hasta el potencial de enganches de Anub’arak, marca el ritmo para que el equipo lo siga.

Benjamin94

Benjamin94 at DreamHack Summer

Si robadobah es una roca, entonces Benjamin Vinante-Davies “Benjamin94” es el pegamento que mantiene todo unido. El es el líder del equipo tanto dentro como fuera del juego, guiándolos a la victoria. Pese a que Reborn no tiene un shotcaller designado, los jugadores apuntan a que el sea quien tome las decisiones para el equipo.

Benjamin94 no tuvo mucho éxito durante el 2015 como algunos otros jugadores, pero su desorbitante flexibilidad finalmente rindió frutos y fue apreciada en Negative Synergy. Usualmente juega el rol de tanque secundario o asesino melé para Reborn pero su gran repertorio lo lleva a adaptarse a literalmente cualquier composición. Juega una atemorizante Kerrigan, pero no tiene miedo de llegar a los personajes más elásticos como Tassadar o Sylvanas para llenar espacios vacíos.

Daspurtz

Daspurtz at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

La linea trasera se mantiene unida por Zac Peters “Daspurtz” en el rol de soporte. En la región ANZ, el ha sido aplaudido como el mejor jugador soporte por mucho. Pese a que el equipo es muy defensivo, es el experto posicionamiento y la meticulosa distribución de habilidades de Daspurtz lo que gana las peleas de equipo.

Como muchos jugadores de soporte, es difícil concretar un héroe principal para Daspurtz. Es bueno con Uther, es bueno con Rehgar, es bueno con Alafeliz, incluso con Auriel. No hay nada en particular en lo que sea malo– el solo los juega todos, y lo hace con un gran nivel de precisión y paciencia.

Arcaner

Arcaner at the ANZ Fall season regional qualifiers

En el lugar de Sachin, Liam Simpson “Arcaner” ha sido un reemplazo -incluso una mejora- en términos de sinergia del equipo. El no tiene la misma agresividad desenfrenada, pero su estilo de juego peculiar y ataques fuera de lo común lo diferencian de la actitud más relajada de sus compañeros de equipo.

Los dedos de Arcaner son rápidos y su mente es aguda; por esto, el puede cubrir una gran variedad de roles en el lapso de una sola serie. En sus equipos anteriores (Fresh y Gust in 5), el típicamente jugaba como asesino del equipo, pero el admite que su preferencia son los soportes. El esta cómodo en muchos héroes de impacto incluyendo a Zagara, Illidan y Tracer, pero no le importa irse atrás y permitir que Ninja o Benjamin94 tomen la iniciativa.

Ninja

Ninja at DreamHack Summer

El engrane más peculiar en la máquina de Reborn es el jugador de rango Shane Ellem “Ninja”. Su enfoque en el macro juego y manejo de oleadas hace maravillas para pescar la ventaja incremental del equipo y hace su estilo de juego único. La manera en que juega es la misma que cualquier otro DPS de rango pero con una mentalidad diferente.

Es mejor conocido por su sobresaliente juego con Falstad. La presencia global de Falstad es una de sus fortalezas y le permite controlar el ritmo del juego; además de eso, casi nunca desperdicia el uso de las ráfagas imponentes. Recientemente, se dio a conocer como un muy creativo Medivh lo que le ha dado atención y que sera algo para tener en cuenta.

Estilo de juego

Para la reformada alineación, unidad es lo mas importante. “Pienso que lo que hace especial a Reborn es que sentamos bases en la amistad,” dijo Arcaner respecto al equipo “somos un equipo de, mecánicamente buenos jugadores que disfrutamos de la compañía de todos especialmente fuera de la practica del equipo,” añadió ademas.

En una conversación con el conocido caster de ANZ Disconcur, estuvo en acuerdo e hizo notar que los lazos de mucho tiempo son lo que ha mantenido al equipo unido durante casi dos años. Lo que sea que pase en BlizzCon, la alineación de Reborn es una de las mas cohesivas en el mundo y se mantendrán tranquilos bajo la presión.

En general, el estilo de juego del equipo puede considerarse defensivo o pasivo con un enfoque en las pequeñas ventajas marginales. Ellos rara vez se precipitan en las peleas por el bien de la lucha y están mas que dispuestos a permitir que un objetivo o una estructura se vaya con el fin de intercambiar una ventaja mas grande, pero eso no quiere decir que no tengan lo necesario para respaldar sus peleas en equipo.

El equipo en su conjunto tiene bastante conocimiento mecánico. Arcaner alardeo que “tienen una ventaja mecánica sobre varios equipos internacionales”, incluyendo equipos de NA, muchas de las regiones pequeñas e incluso, la potencia de EU Fnatic. Sin embargo las mecánicas no lo son todo.

“Pero las mecánicas te llevan lejos. Nuestra debilidad es que apenas practicamos en comparación con las otras regiones. Tenemos extensos compromisos de la vida real y nos limitan en términos de opciones y bloques de practicas en ANZ. Los demás equipos que irán a BlizzCon harán muchos juegos de practica por lo que tendrán una ventaja sobre nosotros en ese aspecto.”

-Arcaner

Como en otras regiones menores, el sueño de ser un jugador profesional de tiempo completo es distante para los jugadores de ANZ. El dinero y la exposición son difíciles de conseguir a través de videojugar, y las buenas opciones de practicas están limitadas para su remota ubicación en el mundo. “Creo que tenemos algunos problemas con nuestras opciones de practica, shotcalling, macro, etc. Los otros equipos podrán bisar juegos de practica, así que ellos tienen una ventaja sobre nosotros en ese aspecto”, lamento Arcaner. Pese a tener la ventaja mecánica, Reborn tendrá una dura batalla contra los equipos bien preparados en BlizzCon.

Dirigiéndose a BlizzCon

Sin embargo, el equipo permanece optimista. Dentro de los equipos de regiones menores que irán a la BlizzCon, Reborn sienten que son sin duda el mejor. Se sienten seguros y que tienen una fuerte posibilidad contra algunas de las principales regiones del mundo.

No hay duda en que Corea es mas fuerte de lo que nunca ha sido, pero muchas de las otras grandes regiones han decaído un poco. Dos de los equipos mas fuertes y mas consistentes de NA durante todo el año, no irán a BlizzCon -aunque eso no quiere decir que Murloc Geniuses y Denial eSports no sean suficientes para representar NA- y los grandes equipos de China, eStar y EDG, se fragmentaron en prácticamente nada.

Robadobah at DreamHack Summer

Photo Credit: DreamHack

”Pienso que tenemos mejores jugadores que Denial, Murloc Geniuses, Super Perfect Team, los demás en las regiones menores y tal vez Fnatic,” afirmo orgullosamente Arcaner. Benjamin94 también esta confiado asegurando ”definitivamente podemos llegar a una posición en los mejores 8 si jugamos tan bien como sabemos hacerlo, pero también los cuadros tendrán un gran rol en ello”. Incluso Disconcur dio su voto de confianza a que la región ANZ llegara a los mejores 8, o incluso los mejores 4. “Somos considerados la peor región después del Summer Championship… los equipos no nos verán ni aprenderán de lo que hacemos,” añadió Benjamin94, haciendo alusión a la posibilidad de sorprender a los equipos mas fuertes. En conjunto, tanto el equipo como la región confían en su juego, pero solo los resultados van a darles la razón.

“Nadie espera nada de nosotros, por lo que se sentirá muy bien vencer a algunos equipos muy buenos de las regiones mas avanzadas y mostrarles, ya sabes, que somos buenos jugadores”

robadobah

Esa es la voluntad que llevo desde Road to BlizzCon 2015 para vencer a las regiones mayores y probar que ANZ es un legitimo competidor en la escena mundial. Esa fue la luz que guio a robadobah, lo convenció de formar un “súper equipo”, y que mantiene a los chicos juntos pese a una ruptura. Ahora es el momento para que Australia brille.


Gracias enormemente a Arcaner, Benjamin94 y Disconcur por permitirme hablar con ellos y ayudarme a aprender mas acerca de la región ANZ. Sin ellos, este articulo no habría sido posible.